Local government election: Meet the Port Stephens mayoral candidates - Ryan Palmer and Leah Anderson

POPULAR VOTE: Pictured left is mayoral candidate Leah Anderson and right is incumbent mayor Ryan Palmer who is seeking re-election. Pictures: Supplied
POPULAR VOTE: Pictured left is mayoral candidate Leah Anderson and right is incumbent mayor Ryan Palmer who is seeking re-election. Pictures: Supplied

Name: Ryan Palmer, Independent

Occupation: Strategic consultant

Ward: East

Suburb live: Nelson Bay. As a lifelong Port Stephens resident I have lived in all wards.

Council experience: First elected mayor in 2017

Why are you standing?

Port Stephens is an amazing place, full of endless opportunities and these opportunities need to be taken. Over the past four plus years we have seen tremendous growth and investment across our area, even in some of the toughest times but there is still much more to do. Throughout the previous term of council, we had record consultation right across Port Stephens and off the back off this consultation we have delivered and are delivering plans based on community priorities. With such a short term of Council it is important that we have experienced leadership to hit the ground running to fulfill the communities' plans. As we recover from the COVID disruption, we must ensure that we continue to move forward and be leaders for our community. My focus is helping to create thriving communities, Port Stephens shouldn't stand still and be held back by those who don't want to see progress.

Campaign policies:

  • Connection - continuing to deliver unrivalled investment in our roads and pathways, creating safe and accessible places for all ages and abilities.
  • Active - investing in our sporting facilities, parks, playgrounds and town centres, where we prioritise people.
  • Community - delivering exciting new community events, a thriving night time economy and connecting our people.
  • Environment - unparalleled support for our vulnerable koalas, native species and beautiful waterways.
  • Prosperity - delivering projects for future generations, partnering with business and delivering world class experiences.
Ryan Palmer and Leah Anderson.

Ryan Palmer and Leah Anderson.

Name: Leah Anderson, Labor Party

Occupation: Finance broker

Ward: East

Suburb live: Nelson Bay - have lived in the Bay for 16 years

Council experience: Running for mayor and east ward councillor for the first time in 2021

Why are you standing?

Because after 16 years volunteering for our community, in various roles I have been involved in, such as the Business Chamber, Destination Port Stephens, Port Stephens Women In Business, Rotary, and the Port Stephens Koala Hospital, I continue to be frustrated by our current council's lack of genuine community consultation and also the transparency of their actions.

I have been actively listening to the community who share the same frustrations. It is clear to me that the Port Stephens community believes they are not being consulted with often enough, and on the right issues.

I have come to realise that no matter how hard you try, you can not make change from the outside. It is impossible.

You have to step up and be willing to work on the inside of this council, if you want to lead change on behalf of the community, as their elected representative. This is what I plan to do if I am elected as mayor of Port Stephens. I will always listen to our community and deliver on their expectations.

Campaign policies:

My team and I are focusing on important policies, such as infrastructure, transparency, accountability and the environment.

If elected, we will deliver the most comprehensive roads budget than ever before. This budget will fix potholes, reseal roads, repair roads, and seal unsealed roads, sooner and to a higher standard. Our team will also deliver more pathways for improved connectivity.

Housing affordability and the growing rate of homelessness is also a major concern of mine. We will work with the state and federal government and relevant community associations to pursue initiatives for more affordable housing and reduce the number of people who are living rough in our community.

Regarding transparency, we will restore advertising of DA's and other important information the community needs to know, back into our local papers, and will extend public consultation by default for controversial matters.

As for the environment, some of our initiatives are green bins, increasing electric vehicle density on councils fleet, improving councils tree management policy and processes, and updating the Koala Plan of Management.

What you need to know about the local government election

All registered voters in Port Stephens are required to vote in the local government election. This is to elect nine new councillors - three each in the Port's three council wards - and a mayor.

Early voting is open until Friday, December 3.

There are two places in Port Stephens where residents can vote in person early: at the returning office at 42 William Street, Raymond Terrace and All Saints Anglican Church, Nelson Bay. Both are open Monday to Saturday, 9am-5pm.

Election day, when all registered voters are required to cast their ballot to elect a mayor and three councillors in the ward in which they live (east, central or west), will be held on Saturday, December 4.

Voting will be available at select public schools and community halls around Port Stephens on December 4 between 8am and 6pm.

Results in all NSW local government elections will be delivered progressively between December 21-23.

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